We came out of the mines grateful for fresh air, sunlight, and space to move around. I can’t say it was the most pleasant tour, but I’m extremely glad I went. It’s easy to discount stories of terrible working conditions from your couch, but meeting miners, putting on a jumpsuit, and going down to see where they work makes it much more real.
Overall, we’ve tried to toe the line, bringing enough for most, but not all situations. Andrea and I even brought our bags on hikes in Seattle to get a feel for what life would be like with so many or so few things.
As the sun rose, I was filled with a simple, unqualified joy. I inhaled, exhaled, and said thank you for the day, for the chance to be there, and to be alive.
This is the story of two wandering nomads that made their way into the Colca Canyon, hiked for three days in the heat, made some friends, loved the scenery, but ate way too little food. After three days of hiking, our nomads found themselves happily tired, starving, and ready to hike up and out of the canyon. This is also a story of awe, natural beauty, Incan mythology, and a canyon that houses many different worlds within its cliffs.
I highly recommend Peru to vacationers if you’re willing to fly domestically. Longer-term travelers can easily spend a month or two exploring.
We’ve learned that we can’t go 100% all the time. It’s important to take time now and again for a “personal admin day” when we have lots to do or a “spontaneous weekend” when we’re just plain tired.
So what does it feel like to hike at 5,000 meters? Slow, mostly. We were all breathing much more heavily than normal and Andrea got hit with a big headache. At one point, Andrea even said that she felt drunk: she was processing information more slowly, felt uncoordinated (try to put foot in one place, her foot ends up somewhere slightly different), and couldn’t think straight.
We’ve traveled all of Colombia from north to south by bus, taken wrong turns, and felt the hairs on the back of our necks stand up more than once, but, so far, besides the occasional rip-off at a store, we have been blessed with a problem-free trip.
We love the change, the challenge, and the variety that comes with constantly being on the move, but we do occasionally miss knowing our way around. Stumbling upon this family-run restaurant in Quito helped us feel grounded. We found comfort in their food and their company and felt truly welcomed. Sometimes what seem like the most banal, everyday moments, like having breakfast, can become some of the most powerful memories, if you’re open to it.
The unexpected upside of buying cheap plane tickets with our miles was that we got to fly over almost every major city in Colombia. From the sky, we were able to appreciate just how diverse Colombia is. We saw the beginning of the Andes, the ocean, coffee plantations, the high-altitude capital city of Bogota, the red brick city of Medellin, and much more. By the time we landed in Cartagena, I couldn’t wait to get off the plane, to be in South America, to taste the food, meet the people, see the colors, get carsick on the windy roads, admire the landscapes, and feel the climate change as we move from one city to another.